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CDR 3.0 vs. PLD 2.0

The offer Traian Băsescu made to the Liberals, to depose Tăriceanu and stay in Power, only confirms the failure of PLD and proves Traian Băsescu is running out of ideas. The President knows that he must do something quite soon, because his voters are getting bored and may find another outlet for their frustration. P(L)D is not helping; on the contrary, it raises serious image problems for Băsescu. Meanwhile, PNL gets ready to re-launch the Democratic Convention, currently at version 3.0.

PLD 2.0   But Traian Băsescu’s problem now is that, apart from political migrants, hardly anybody trusts him any longer. Basically, Traian Băsescu’s offer comes down to the death of PNL as a political party, and I have serious doubts that any Liberal leader is willing to take responsibility for this, particularly keeping in mind that the current position of PNL is fairly solid. PD can’t force Tăriceanu out, and PSD has no reason to do it, although Geoană keeps talking about a second no-confidence motion (which would be a nonsense, though: I can’t see why should two motions be tabled within a month), because this would have him depend entirely on Traian Băsescu and eventually vanish from the political arena altogether. Had PSD actually decided to dismiss the Tăriceanu Cabinet, they might as well have done it by backing the PD motion. A proof that Tăriceanu doesn’t feel at all threatened is the negotiation with PSD, or rather, the absence of such negotiations. To my mind, this is hardly a man clinging on to his seat. It may well be that this “indecent” proposal is only intended to divert attention from the P(L)D impotence and from recent debates on the collection of political migrants having enrolled with the presidential party. This is like counting the eggs before they are hatched, since there is no way the PD motion will pass, and for the time being there’s no evidence that tabling one would benefit PSD. Further proof that this is a red herring is also the fact that the proposal is unrealistic, considering that:

Such a government would have an approx. 35% parliamentary support, as against the 22% of the incumbent Cabinet; is this really worth the effort? But of course, since PD would get back in the government!

After all the fighting of the past few months, PNL and PD would be the nation’s laughing stock if they got back together;

This solution requires the Premier’s voluntary resignation, because I don’t think any group in PNL would venture into a coup—not after what happened with the Stolojan wing, which has serious problems raising above the electoral threshold;

The solution, just like the Tăriceanu 2 Cabinet, depends on the PSD goodwill.

Insofar as it leaves PSD out of the equation, Traian Băsescu’s proposal results in a shift in focus from the battle between PD and PSD—as it was the case in the referendum campaign (when PNL was virtually ignored, just as it ignored Băsescu in its turn)—towards a battle between PNL and PD. Traian Băsescu may have noticed that PSD no longer scares anyone, with all the chaos in its structures, that Ion Iliescu is not much of a menace, and that he must give his electorate something more spicy. On the other hand, acknowledging Tăriceanu and PNL as the main political opponents only boosts their “market value,” particularly as they did quite well in the “negotiations” with PSD and even the Cotroceni propagandists have ceased to believe that secret agreements (rather than plain fear of elections) are behind the PSD support for the Tăriceanu Cabinet…   CDR 3.0   In reply to the right-wing Pole announced by Stolojan, PNL prepares the third version of the Democratic Convention, through a project targeting cooperation with PNŢCD and merger with AP. Like anything else that PNL does, this latest initiative was heavily criticised by the mass media, which gives me reasons to believe that this time around the Liberals are on the right tract. Let’s see the pros and cons for this move:   Pros

PNL reaffirms its right-wing identity, a legitimacy vehemently challenged by PLD and PD, which propose, in their turn, an “authentic” right-wing pole. But the opponents’ claims exclusively rely on the “cooperation with PSD,” which is increasingly difficult to prove, as it has become clear that PSD has supported the Tăriceanu 2 Government primarily out of fear of early elections, and that it has received nothing in exchange. Moreover, PNŢCD and AP are undeniably right-wing parties, whereas PNG and Ioan Talpeş are obviously anything but right-wing.

The P(L)D right-wing identity is shattered, which was not very hard in the first place, since PD has generally preserved its left-wing rhetoric, and the break with the Socialist International was rather off-the-cuff. Moreover, the competitor of CDR 3.0 might ring a “New FSN” bell. At best, P(L)D will be pushed towards the centre, or even to the left, where a gap seems to be yawning further to the chaotic moves PSD has made as of recently.

The return of PNŢCD to the political forefront helps this party overcome the media embargo it has been subject to (PNŢCD has been getting some coverage only on OTV, where Miluţ would pay for his monthly features, since on OTV nothing is on the house—on the one-room house, to be precise). One of the reasons for the almost-extinction of PNŢCD is this media embargo, along with a pragmatic vote cast for other right-wing parties with better chances to get into Parliament. True enough, even in their heydays the Christian Democrats have hardly exceeded 6% in polls, therefore their electoral contribution is not expected to be spectacular; however, the synergy with a truly right-wing party may gain over the right-wing electorate of P(L)D.

The international status of PNŢCD, a member of the People’s Parties International ever since 1987 is yet another important element, given that further to the accession much of the Romanian domestic politics is done in Brussels-. Frattini’s goodwill, for instance, may come in handy to the Tăriceanu Cabinet, especially since the EPP doesn’t seem all that happy with their association with Băsescu: they didn’t rush to openly support PD, as the Socialist International once did for PSD and again in this referendum campaign, and as the European Liberals did.

At present, PNL has the best position, which they seem to make intelligent use of. They managed, I believe, to put safe distance between themselves and PSD and to throw the hot potato to the Democrats: the latter can only get rid of Tăriceanu if they cooperate with PSD (which is just what the Liberals did when joining forces with PSD to eliminate Traian Băsescu).

This alliance may come up with a presidential candidate who may prove a worthy competitor for Traian Băsescu, and I don’t mean Emil Constantinescu, but Ciuhandu, whose performance in the 2004 elections was excellent.


CDR failed, like all other right-wing alliances, and a lot of people have a negative perception on CDR, although, looking back, their governing was not that bad; similarly, Emil Constantinescu himself has a negative image.

There is a significant ideological barrier, which may pose problems in the future. One of the reasons of the D.A. Alliance failure was the incapacity to handle success, first and foremost because they never imagined they would actually get in Power, so they had no power management plan. Both parties have sound positions in the internationals they are affiliated to, so none of them is willing to give this up. But if they do come up with a concrete and coherent political project, clearly regulating the form of cooperation, then this problem can be solved, especially since none of the parties seems to include a destabilising element comparable to Traian Băsescu.

The missing ingredient:   There is one element in this strategy that everyone overlooks: The Magyar minority. I believe this party stands slim chances to get any Parliament seats (except, perhaps, for some symbolic representation in case of uninominal voting), which is a pity for everybody. Both PD and PSD have embraced more or less covert nationalist positions, and their electorate is clearly against the Magyars, whereas PNL and PNŢCD have so far chosen to ignore the issue. With Transylvania apparently under the electoral control of PD, a new right-wing pole has nothing left to lose, and I think that taking over some of the UDMR political leaders, like Eckstein or Zsolt Nagy, and paying special attention to the Magyar minority may do the trick and mobilise the Magyar electorate, which broadly matches the PNL-PNŢCD electoral profile. This would not affect the electorate of the two, generally urban, educated, refined people, who don’t fall for nationalist rhetoric. Not to mention that just like PNŢCD, UDMR is also a member of the Christian Democratic International. With the regionalisation (decentralisation) of politics gaining ground, the first Romanian party to come up with a political offer for the Magyar community will stand to gain the most. While at a national level the Magyar community representation is around 6-7%, at a regional level it may reach as much as 80% in Transylvania-. The new political structure would thus be able to secure regional domination (Banat through PNŢCD, Transylvania through the Magyar minority, <%Moldavia through PNL, Bucharest- through PNL) leading to a very good result at a national level.

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